Master of Science in Forensic Science

The Master of Science in Forensic Science (MSFS) degree prepares students for leadership positions in forensic science laboratories. Emphasizing hands-on learning and coursework in the natural sciences, the curriculum is designed to provide students a solid foundation in the forensic sciences, particularly in forensic DNA and forensic chemistry.

A new degree approved in 2011, the MSFS grew out of the Master in Forensic Science (MFS) degree biology/chemistry concentration, which began in 2001. The MSFS program is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and by the Forensic Education Program Accreditation Commission (FEPAC).

Focus on Experiential Learning: Nebraska Wesleyan’s forensic science graduate program focuses on building real-life experiences. The university offers a designated Crime Scene House adjacent to campus. Here, faculty and advanced students (or “faux felons”) develop scenarios and create mock crime scenes. Students from all three tracks work together to process the scene, analyze blood spatter, collect DNA evidence, develop latent fingerprints and reconstruct the crime. Over the course of 10 months, students identify a suspect and testify before a mock grand jury.

Research Facilities: A former microbiology lab has been reconfigured into a research lab equipped with microscopes, freezers and cameras. Students enjoy space that can be devoted to conducting their own research.

Career Opportunities

The graduation rate of students in the Biochemistry Track (MSFS) for students matriculating in 2001 through 2009 is 82%. Their median time to graduation is 3 years, and most students graduate after 2.5 and 3 years. Other times till graduation vary from 2 through 8 years.

The graduates from this program have found employment as:

a) Forensic Scientists (40%) – employment by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Lincoln Police Department, the Nebraska State Patrol Crime Lab, Douglas County Sheriffs Office (Omaha) and by a variety of other agencies across the country (such as in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland, Louisiana, Texas, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington) and in a variety of private Forensic Organizations, as DNA analysts and chemists, law-enforcement officers, and also as Forensic Faculty (Texas).

b) Research and Clinical Analytical Scientists (40%)

c) Went on for further studies (8%)

d) Other, such as high school teachers

Special Aptitudes

People planning a career in forensic science should have an aptitude for mathematics and be able to analyze, compare, and interpret facts and figures quickly. In addition communication skills, critical thinking, listening, nonverbal communication, and problem-solving abilities are valuable assets. Because legal decisions are made on the basis of their statements and services, they should have high standards of integrity.

Degree Requirements

Nebraska Wesleyan University offers a 42-credit-hour forensic science program through which graduate students may earn a Master of Forensic Science (MSFS). The first year curriculum focuses on giving graduate students a broad-based knowledge of the forensic sciences. Over the next summer, they complete a two-week internship with a medical examiner or coroner.

During the second year, students focus on biological and chemistry courses. They also participate in a yearlong crime scene investigation course that counts for two credits. The last class for most students is “Forensic Science 599”. This course involves research and internship work relevant to students’ individual interests and concentrations.

For most students, the program takes two and a half years to complete.

See all forensic science degree requirements and course descriptions.

MSFS Prerequisites

The graduate forensic program-wide requirements include:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale
  • A grade of B- or better for prerequisite courses (see below)
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Goal statement
  • Application for admission
  • Clearance of a criminal background check (upon acceptance into the Forensic Science Program).

Requirements may be waived upon request of evaluation of transcripts and/or work experience.

In addition, Master of Science in Forensic Science (MSFS) students must meet these specific program requirements:

  • Two semesters biochemistry (or one semester biochemistry and one semester molecular biology or molecular genetics)
  • Students can either take one semester of:
    • quantitative chemistry or
    • one semester of analytical chemistry or
    • one semester of statistics.
  • One semester genetics or cellular biology
  • Recommended: one semester anatomy or physiology

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